David Lumm is a professional programmer and all round geek with a passion for taking complex things and making them simple.
Despite my Samsung Galaxy S3 now being two generations old, I’m still pretty happy with it. My mobile has become such a massive part of my life that I’m not in any rush to change phone and have to reconfigure etc. I use it to communicate in a dozen different ways, to capture moments in photos and videos, to pay for bills, to log my life down to my every movement and so much more besides. On top of all of that we expect them to be thin, it’s no wonder the batteries never last…
The amount of times I’ve reached for my phone to take a picture only for there to be a critical battery level, or worse, it has completely died. It’s pretty frustrating! So I was really happy when I was approached to review a selection of battery and charging technology for my Samsung Galaxy S3. Frankly I was surprised there were that many options, let alone how convenient they could be!
Let’s start with the smallest and most surprising charger, called Fuel: The World’s Smallest Smartphone Charger:
I can’t reiterate this one fact enough: it is very small and it works. We’re looking at 220 mAh in a package just 3.3cm x 2.3cm 1.3cm (that’s 1.3” x 0.9” x 0.5”) and all for £19.99. It’s advertised as not only being small enough for your keyring, but small enough to fit in that annoying (and generally pointless) tiny pocket in your jeans!
It comes complete with a micro-usb plug and a micro-usb socket. So you charge it off your usual charger and then carry it with you ready to charge your phone in emergencies. There’s just a single switch, so it’s pretty easy to use.
The way my phone eats battery, however, I only usually get around 5-10% out of the little charger. Perfect for a quick picture or very short call, but definitely only for emergencies!
Next, on a similar vein, is the Juiceful 3-in-1 Key Chain which combines a battery, charging cable and 16GB USB Drive for only £17.99.
This one I’ve loved, it’s been permanently on my keys since I started testing it. For those of you using phones from the enemy, they also do versions for Apple 30-pin and Lightning connections.
I usually get around 35-40% extra battery from this little 1000mAh device. It clips onto your keys or your bag although it’s probably too big to fit in that mysterious pocket.
The magical thing, to me, is that not only you can charge your phone and the little battery at the same time, but once the battery pack is charged the unit instantly converts into a charge/sync cable. This is the only cable you’ll ever need!
With a couple of presses of the button you also get access to a 16GB pen drive. If you normally carry a pen drive and a cable and a backup battery, this is definitely worth a look.
It came with a set of instructions that help you work out how to use that single button to do so much, except the instructions seem to also confusingly cover a 2-in-1 model too, so it can be a bit confusing which instructions apply to which device.
The next couple of products are specific to the Samsung Galaxy S3, but there are equivalents for the newer Samsung models which I’ll mention.
The first is the Samsung Galaxy S3 Battery Case 2200 mAh, which is a great idea. A case that contains a battery as powerful as the main phone battery, effectively giving you double the capacity. There is a similar product for the Galaxy S4, the Power Jacket for Samsung Galaxy S4 with Cover, there are probably alternatives for most of the major phones.
So I replaced my usual case with this and got on with it. I found, however, that I was taking off the case quite a lot. To get the phone to fit in the stand I use at work, to use it in the car and to charge the phone battery without risking trying to charge both at once – although apparently you can stop the case from charging and your phone should also charge, I never felt quite comfortable doing that, especially since there are zero instructions in the box and the website is very explicit about never trying to charge both.
So that’s the bad points, but the thing is the times I did use it it was pretty useful. With a full battery on the phone and second full battery built into the case, it was pretty easy to go out for a long time without needing to charge or be concerned that the battery would be low at a crucial moment.
With usual load, including Wifi etc, the battery pack would usually give me around an extra 50-70% extra battery, not too shabby! With the LEDs on the front it was nice to be able to see how much capacity was left in the case, or how long it had left to charge.
It also has a rather useful little kickstand, to help you watch videos handsfree etc.
If this was as convenient as the 3-in-1 charger above, that it could charge itself and the phone at once and serve as a syncing cable etc, then it would probably be a no-brainer, but at £29.99 it’s just too high a price to pay for something that doesn’t quite deliver.
Last but not least in my emergency power backup bonanza was a Genuine Samsung Galaxy S3 Extra Battery Kit – EB-H1G6LLEGSTD. Whilst it doesn’t have many bells and whistles like the other products, it does give you a fully charged genuine battery that you know will last as long as the first.
The downside to this approach, along with the £29.99 price-tag, is that you have to turn the phone off before you can swap the batteries over. All of the other approaches are no fuss, but only the battery pack case can compare for capacity.
The little charging pod that the battery is in is pretty useful too. It’s barely bigger than the battery, making is very portable, it charges from the same micro usb connection you would use to charge your phone, it has a charging/full indicator and it can be used as a stand (but only for when your phone is not in a case). This is the sort of thing you want to charge up and put in your bag if you’re going to be away from power for longer than usual, but it’s probably not so useful for a quick trip out.
Of course, being a Samsung product there are equivalents for the Galaxy S4 and S5. Interestingly, these do not include the stand, as Samsung obviously decided it wasn’t all that useful, but this has the advantage of making them even smaller!
So, in summary: If you can only buy one, buy the Juiceful; For gifts, gimmicks and the anxious looking for an additional backup, get a Fuel; If you’re looking for a power backup and a case, the Battery Case is ideal; if you want a proper backup battery, you can’t go wrong with the official spare battery.
What do you do to soothe your battery anxiety? Please share in the comments!
This was a sponsored post, but each item was reviewed for about 10 days each, with some overlap between products. MobileFun.co.uk currently sell a range of accessories for the Samsung Galaxy S3 as well as many other popular phones.